Omicron the new variant coronavirus is rapidly spreading around the globe, according to World Health Organization (WHO).
Cases of this heavily mutationated variant were confirmed in at least 77 countries.
At a press conference Tedros Adhanom Gebreyesus, WHO chief, said that the virus was likely in others who had not yet detected it.
Dr Tedros expressed concern that too little was done to combat the variant.
We have all learned that this virus is dangerously underestimated. He said that Omicron can cause less serious diseases, but the sheer volume of Omicron cases could overwhelm health systems.”
- Is Omicron milder despite dodging immunity?
- Why are boosters effective if there is a failure to work in two doses?
- Low vaccination is a contributing factor to Omicron’s rise?
South Africa’s Omicron variant of the Omicron was identified for the first time in November. The country has seen an increase in Omicron infections since then. President Cyril Ramaphosa was found to be positive for Covid-19. He is experiencing only mild symptoms.
Omicron has spread to other countries, even though travel bans have been implemented in a few of its neighboring countries.
You can also find other developments
- Coronavirus has claimed the lives of more than 800,000. This is the largest recorded death rate from the pandemic.
- Boris Johnson, the UK Prime Minister, won support for Covid passes in England despite the largest revolt of members since he was elected PM
- On Tuesday, the UK government announced that 11 of the countries listed on its travel red lists would be removed. Health Secretary Sajid Javid stated that Omicron had become so widespread that the regulations no longer serve any purpose.
- Italy extended the state of emergency to 31 March 2022 due to concerns about Omicron. These measures give the government greater power to restrict travel and gather public opinion, than the ones that were supposed to end at the end December.
- The Netherlands has announced that it will close all primary schools one week prior to the start of Christmas holiday. This is in an attempt to prevent infection.
- Norway, amongst other things, has declared a prohibition on alcohol being served in bars or restaurants.
At Tuesday’s press conference, Dr Tedros reiterated concern about vaccine inequality, as Omicron has accelerated the rollout of booster shots in some countries.
Recent Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine studies showed that it produces far less neutralizing antibodies against Omicron strains than the original, however, this could be corrected by another booster jab.
Dr Tedros stated that boosters could play an “important role” in reducing the spread of Covid-19 but it was “a matter of prioritisation”.
The order is important. He said that boosters given to low-risk groups of severe illness or death can only endanger the lives of high-risk individuals who still have not received their first doses due to supply limitations.
In recent months, Covax has seen an increase in supplies. World health officials are concerned about a repetition of the shortage of 10 million doses in Covax, which was partly due to India’s suspension of exports in response to a spike in case numbers.
Some people in poorer countries are still waiting for a single dose.
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